Dr. Steve Scott, Pittsburg State University President, recently shared his thoughts on the budget proposed by Governor Laura Kelly.
Among other items, the budget aims to freeze the increase in tuition expected to happen to state universities and provide additional scholarship opportunities to students.
Scott has not shared his support for a budget proposal publicly since becoming university president in 2009. He said that he was pleased with the budget proposed by the governor.
“This budget is very easy to support,” Scott said. “It’s the best recommendation we’ve had from a governor in my 13 years as president, and it’s probably the best recommendation by many sitting Kansas governors in decades. So, we are very excited. We are very pleased with her and the decision she made around higher education.”
In previous years, both Scott and other members of the upper administration have not spoken out about state budget proposals.
“We haven’t because they’ve included cuts or very modest increases with lots of strings attached,” Scott said.
However, this year Scott has been very supportive of pieces of the budget that would help PSU students and faculty.
“We’ve never had a budget like this being recommended so that I think that’s why this is so different and why we’re so supportive of this particular budget,” Scott said.
The budget proposed is likely to be modified and reshaped as it works through the state legislature. Governor Laura Kelly, a democrat, must find a compromise with the House of Representative and the Senate, both controlled by republicans.
Scott is hopeful the higher education points of the budget will pass.
“I think the word is hopeful. I think there is hope. Obviously, they’re the ones that pass the laws. Governor Kelly has veto power, but the legislature has an enormous amount of power in this, so we are very hopeful that they’ll look at and see if it’s appropriate and if its affordable.”
The most impactful part of the budget for students is the tuition freeze at state colleges.
“A tuition freeze is one thing both politically and saying we’re on a tuition freeze is something else,” Scott said. “What she did was, she said that we’re going to freeze tuition, but we’re going to provide you [colleges] with some additional funding to make it all work.”
Scott continued to share how the budget proposal, if passed, could positively impact the university and students.
“It’s perfect for us,” Scott said. “It’s great for students. It provides us the ability to cover the additional costs because of placement pressures and all the other challenges we’ve been facing.”
If the budget is not passed with the funding for colleges, many colleges will have to increase tuition and fees.
“On the other side of that, if it doesn’t pass or it’s really altered in a significant way, then I think we would have to look at opportunities for additional revenue,” Scott said. “We are hopeful that what happens is it gets adopted in that form, or pretty close to that form, and that we could hold the line on tuition and fees.”
“The actions of the legislature will directly impact tuition and it will also impact the facilities,” Scott said. “There are many parts of this budget that will affect students whether they realize it or not.”
If students want to share their support or concerns with the university regarding the budget, Scott suggests that students contact student leadership.
“I meet every month with the student body leaders including Student Government President Kaedra Brenner and Vice President Bella L’Heureux,” Scott said. “We met earlier this week and had a good discussion about the governor’s proposal.”
Scott hopes that all students will get involved in the political process and contact their representatives with questions and thoughts on the budget.
Governor Kelly’s 2023 budget proposal is currently being litigated in the state legislature before being put into one bill to be passed by the Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor.